March 31 Phishing Attempt

Friday, March 31, 2017, many UA employees received a phishing email with the subject title “Upgrade Your University of Alabama. Account”

This email is a phishing attempt designed to steal usernames and passwords, and to possibly infect your system with malicious code.  Please remember that The University of Alabama does not send out these types of messages. If you haven’t already, please delete the email.

If you did receive this email, and you did click on the link to provide your username and password, please promptly change your myBama password and activate DUO at duo.ua.edu. Please contact the IT Service Desk with questions and concerns 205-348-5555 or itsd@ua.edu.

Below is a screenshot of the email.

March 29 Phishing Attempt

Wednesday, March 29, 2017, many UA employees received a phishing email with the subject title “Outlook Web.”

This email is a phishing attempt designed to steal usernames and passwords, and to possibly infect your system with malicious code.  Please remember that The University of Alabama does not send out these types of messages. If you haven’t already, please delete the email.

If you did receive this email, and you did click on the link to provide your username and password, please promptly change your myBama password and activate DUO at duo.ua.edu. Please contact the IT Service Desk with questions and concerns 205-348-5555 or itsd@ua.edu.

Below is a screenshot of the email.

The Changing Landscape in Technology …. An Evolution and a Revolution

“If you aren’t willing to adapt, you will die. Evolution isn’t only for species. It applies to whole industries and even individual careers. Legacy, disaggregated infrastructure is becoming less sustainable. IT is under assault from every direction.” – Scott D. Lowe

Recent political events related to the development of jobs have sparked me to think about the role that technology will play in the future of job markets. I am concerned that many individuals do not understand what is currently transpiring in information technology, and how it will impact every industry from healthcare to energy to manufacturing and transportation.

In today’s blog post, I will review step changes that have led to the present state of technology, and I will then challenge the reader to consider the future of technology, and what changes should be conducted in higher education to better prepare the future global workforce.

Causative Agents

First let’s answer the following question: what causative agents have affected the changing landscape of technology? For me, I think about the period of time that I became involved in IT. At that time, there were no computer science degrees, it dates me, I know. In my post doctorate program in biochemistry, I was working on an EPA grant where my skills led me to be the programmer for our research initiatives.

IBM 5150 PC, an Intel 8088 based system
IBM 5150 PC, an Intel 8088 based system

I purchased an IBM 5150 PC, an Intel 8088 based system, one of the first delivered in the area. This machine led to a series of events that caused me to shift from biochemistry into technology. When I think about the IBM 5150, and all of the step changes that accompanied it, I am quite amazed. It was the beginning of a movement from centralization and mainframe to distributed computing.

Another major step change occurred at Xerox PARC in the Silicon Valley. Steve Jobs viewed the graphical user interface that Xerox developed, and built it into the Macintosh computer. This evolution began a revolution in the worlds of business and personal computing.

All of these step changes would not have been possible without Gordon Moore and Intel’s chip design. Its lithographic techniques led to the miniaturization of components, and the increase of components on its chips. Moore plotted data on the number of components in chips from 1959 to 1975, it was a straight line. His forecast was that these components (i.e. transistors, resistors, and capacitors) would grow from 2^6 to 2^16 during a ten-year period.  This was not a physical or natural law, but merely an observation. Later this year, Intel will release 10 nm chip technology based upon new lithographic techniques (EUV).

With the advent of the iPhone, Apple has created another step change that has significantly altered how the world interacts with technology. Technology has become personalized and consumer-driven.

Higher Ed

Most readers of this post will probably consider themselves familiar with the current technology landscape in regards to higher education. As you can imagine, my primary concern in information technology is higher education; however, I’d like to take a look at outside industries, and how they are impacted by the evolution and revolution of technology to determine what changes are necessary in higher education in order to better prepare the future workforce.

Industry Advancements

There are many technology step changes within the transportation industry at this very moment that will cause significant changes to how we get around in the very near future. One example being the invention and implementation of autonomous vehicles.

Rolls Royce Ghost Ship
Rolls Royce Ghost Ship

Car manufacturers are currently testing vehicles on the streets of our busiest cities, demonstrating that these vehicles, with no drivers, are able to taxi individuals from one destination to another. In Europe, autonomous luxury cars and even autonomous tractor trailers are being tested on the Autobahn.

Boeing has recently announced that it will test autonomous air vehicles that will travel above our present roadways, thus opening up an additional series of lanes. Rolls Royce has developed ghost ships that will travel seas without a crew.

Rio Tinto Autonomous Haulpaks
Rio Tinto Autonomous Haulpaks

Rio Tinto, one the world’s largest mining operations, is moving toward fully autonomous vehicles in the open pit mines. The 320-ton Haulpaks, and their trains, are without personnel. Rio Tinto has spent $350 million on AI and software development related to this project, and hundreds of individuals have been displaced from their jobs.

Mercendes Benz Plant in Vance, AL

When considering technology advancements in manufacturing, you need to look no further than the Mercedes plant located just northeast of Tuscaloosa. If you have the opportunity to tour the facility, you will notice one thing:  very few people. The majority of the operation is automated with large robots that move very quickly. Frankly the robots remind me of the cylons in Battlestar Galactica.  This manufacturing plant is an indication of our future. Jobs are no longer plentiful in manufacturing.

Conclusions

All of the observations listed above are not of the future, yet they are the present. My concern is the chasm that will widen between those who have, and those who have not. Those outside of technology could be left useless in our workforce. As members of the higher education community, we must strive in continuously evolving education to meet and exceed the growing technology demands impacting the global workforce.

SciNet Now Open to UA Researchers

As research continues to be increasingly data-intensive, many institutions have seen the need to implement specialized networking capabilities.  The management and movement of research data often constitutes network use profiles that are very different from those of general office and academic computing uses.  To address these requirements, many institutions set up either stand-alone science networks or science network configurations within their campus networks.

The UA Office of Information Technology obtained grant funding from the National Science Foundation to provide our research community with faster, more efficient network capabilities.  The work associated with that has been underway, and OIT is now seeking research use-cases that might benefit from the new capabilities.

About UA SciNet

The UA campus network upgrades have provided the foundation to support high-speed (10/40/100 Gbps) connections both between different on-campus locations and between on-campus and off-campus locations.  This foundation enables the configuration of connections for movement of time-sensitive data, large datasets (>500GB), and/or large numbers of datasets.

Example

A researcher needs to upload or download one or more datasets that are greater than 500 GB in size.  There are many factors that affect the transmission speed but in a typical case, sending a 500 GB file might take about 3 hours to complete using the general campus network.   On a dedicated UA SciNet connection that was optimized for this purpose, that time could realistically be reduced to less than 15 minutes.

Throughput improvements could be realized for applications requiring the reception of data from numerous sending devices such as environmental sensors or for applications requiring the movement of numerous smaller datasets.

OIT is seeking immediate participation from UA researchers in the implementation of this new capability.  Researchers with an interest in participating in the deployment of UA SciNet are asked to contact Scott Montgomery at 348-8008 or smontgomery@ua.edu.

 

March 24 Phishing Attempts

Friday, March 24, 2017, many UA employees received phishing emails with the subject title “RE: Admin Service Notification (Alert)” or “Upgrade Your Account”

These emails are phishing attempts designed to steal usernames and passwords, and to possibly infect your system with malicious code.  Please remember that The University of Alabama does not send out these types of messages. If you haven’t already, please delete the email.

If you did receive one or both of these emails, and you did click on the links to provide your username and password, please promptly change your myBama password and activate DUO at duo.ua.edu. Please contact the IT Service Desk with questions and concerns 205-348-5555 or itsd@ua.edu.

 

 

DUO Change – Remember Me for 30 Days

This Friday, The Office of Information Technology we will be implementing a change to DUO. We will be extending the “Remember me for 24 hour” feature to “Remember me for 30 days.” After this change is made, DUO users will only need to go through the DUO two-factor authentication step once a month.

We value the feedback that we have received from current DUO users to help us make DUO an easy-to-use program for students, faculty and staff at The University of Alabama.

No change is required for the user, the user will simply receive the new “Remember Me” option Friday upon logging into myBama. The “Remember Me” option is indeed optional, and users can continue to go through the two-factor authentication steps upon each login if preferred.

Just like the current “Remember Me” feature, the new feature will only remember you on that particular browser, on that particular device. Meaning, if you need to access your DUO settings, you may do so by using a different web browser or different device.

Please review answers to our frequently asked questions, and contact our IT Service Desk with additional questions at 205-348-5555.

Spring Break Phishing Attempts

Over spring break, many UA employees received phishing emails with the subject title “Alert” or “Upgrade Your University of Alabama Login Page.”

These emails are phishing attempts designed to steal usernames and passwords, and to possibly infect your system with malicious code.  Please remember that The University of Alabama does not send out these types of messages. If you haven’t already, please delete the email.

If you did receive one or both of these emails, and you did click on the links to provide your username and password, please promptly change your myBama password and activate DUO at duo.ua.edu. Please contact the IT Service Desk with questions and concerns 205-348-5555 or itsd@ua.edu.

Below are screenshots of the emails.

 

 

 

Latest Version of Firefox Not Supportive of INB

The latest version of Firefox (version 52) disables Java plugins, which correspondingly means that INB will no longer be functional with version 52 of Firefox. Many users have set internet browsers, like Firefox, to auto-update, which is causing users to not be able to access INB.

If you have updated to latest version of Firefox, and you need to access INB through Firefox, you can install the Extended Support Release version. You can also use Internet Explorer version 11 to access INB. If you have any questions, please contact your technical support or the IT Service Desk at 348-5555.

OIT Encourages Students to Be Mindful of Phishing Scams

As we approach the end of spring semester, many students are currently applying for internships and jobs. The Office of Information Technology encourages students to be mindful of potential phishing scams, and to recognize the red flags of phishing when checking their Crimson email.

“Hackers know exactly what to say to get the attention of students,” said UA Chief Information Security Officer Ashley Ewing. “They often send students emails that say things about summer jobs or internships, because they know that’s what students are wanting to see in their inboxes.”

OIT urges students to understand and recognize the warning signs of a phishing email, so that students are able to decipher a real job offer from a phishing job offer.

  • Look at the “From” email address. Confirm that the @ address is the company that the sender says it is.
  • Hover over links to see the URL before you click.
  • Look for an official email signature.
  • If you didn’t apply for it, don’t open it.
  • Do not send sensitive data, like a social security number, over email.
  • Never provide financial information, like credit card numbers or bank account numbers, over email.

If students suspect they are a victim of a phishing attack, they are encouraged change their myBama password and to install DUO. If students have provided sensitive data or financial information to a phishing email, they are encouraged to complete a report with UAPD. For questions, please contact the IT Service Desk at 205-348-5555 with any questions.

March 9 Phishing Attempt

Thursday, March 9, 2017 many UA employees received phishing emails with the subject title “RE: Your Password Expires Today.”

This email is a phishing attempt designed to steal usernames and passwords, and to possibly infect your system with malicious code.  Please remember that The University of Alabama does not send out these types of messages. If you haven’t already, please delete the email.

If you did receive this email, and you did click on the links to provide your username and password, please promptly change your myBama password and activate DUO at duo.ua.edu. Please contact the IT Service Desk with questions and concerns 205-348-5555.

Below is a screenshot of the email.